Sunday, 28 February 2010

BETT show 2010 for a beginner!

January saw much excitement in the MFL world as BETT show 2010 got under way in Olympia, London. Like many full time-teachers, I was reluctant to ask for too many days out - won't be allowed to go, hit too many exam classes etc - the usual problems - and yet it was frustrating as I noted all the tremendous talks, Teachmeets and seminars happening during school time.
I compromised and decided to make my way to Olympia for the first time on the Saturday to catch what i could catch. I had been warned - it's not for the faint-hearted, already-exhausted or vague! Was I glad of every scrap of preparation I had tried to do!! It's enormous, overwhelming and very intriguing, then you find yourself gradually getting into the atmosphere, heading purposefully from stand to seminar room in a flurry of enthusiastic activity, in order to feel that you have gained. Gained what? Sore feet? Certainly!
But I gained much - in 6 hours,I visited Taskmagic, 2Simple,TTS group, Harcourt/Heinemann publishers to see demos of new materials, saw a 3D demo,talked to Sanako, Coomber, European parliament, MYLO,various exam boards,Televic, E-twinning at the British Council stand, Eurotalk for some bargains in site licences, and met with some MFL twitterati for coffee.
However I also took in two presentations
1.Sheffield West City Learning Centre on blogging to Promote Reflective Learners
How they created effective blogs for pupils with all the work that it entails, how it works as a technique for enhancing interest in learning; main finding - teachers need to keep at the responses on the blog in order to keep the interest going. Without feedback, the blog dies...
2. The redoutable Helen Myers (Ashcombe School) on "How to make ICT work for you in Language Teaching" - a most thorough overview of every aspect of IT in MFL teaching today. I'll see if I could post a link to her handout - a phenomenal gathering of all useful websites, CD ROMs, applications, every imaginable use of IT in MFL. Great.

Overall I had a tremendous day but when reading others blog posts,I missed out big time through not being able to get to the Teachmeet gathering of MFL teachers on Friday evening. I agree with many comments on the difficulty of being an ordinary teacher with no mega budget to spend at BETT but still found it very useful and would love to be better organised next year and see more presentations on one school day perhaps. The more that can be done to maximise the sharing of expertise at the same time as presenting new enticing software or hardware, the better. I look forward to BETT 2011!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Getting started

To blog or not to blog, that is the question! So many bloggers, so many excellent blogs, such a growing field. But there is so much to think about and MFL has never known such pressure; I think there are language matters to discuss and language does matter and we need to keep representing the professionals in schools who regularly get in the classroom and do the hard graft.

I have had such a tremendous year and a half since I first went on Joe Dale's excellent Isle of Wight ICT training course. So many terrific practitioners gathered in Nodehill to learn and share together and I was blown away. Part of it is simply the fear of being left behind - let's be honest. I am in my final decade of teaching, I am a digital tourist, as they say but I am not going lightly into that dark age of retirement! The CPD which I have found for myself, largely through the terrific ICT-loving community of MFL teachers out there in the ether, has been invaluable and has given me a renewed passion for the job of teaching day to day.

I am worried by the time this blog may need, concerned by the "going public"- but I am equally scared of the responsibility that teachers in Britain are forced to carry for the apparent popularity (or lack of it)of their subject and if any of us can do something which will encourage others in our field, then I think we should go for it.

In this blog I'll aim to fill in the gap between those who are expert and those who like me , are just beginning and feeling their way in the digital realm. It IS a journey worth making - it's not even a question of age, is it? Teachers of all ages need to keep fresh, upgrade their skills and buy in a new range of tools to do the job better.

It's just that the IT tools are spectacularly engaging and I may try to illustrate some of them, ask others to help me out and point the way to interesting places if I possibly can.